What does the Federal Foreign Office do?

  • Within the German Government, responsibility for humanitarian assistance lies with the Federal Foreign Office (AA). 

Through its Crisis Response Centre at the Head Office in Berlin, it can be contacted round the clock and can get relief measures underway within hours. 

Its network of missions abroad plays a crucial role in early warning and quickly establishing contact with those affected and relief organisations on the ground. 

The internationally recognised concept "Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development" (LRRD) envisages dovetailing humanitarian assistance measures with long‑term development cooperation, which in Germany is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

For 2016, 733.5 million euros have been earmarked in the federal budget which the Federal Foreign Office can use to fund humanitarian assistance projects throughout the world. 

The Federal Foreign Office cooperates with specialist partners to implement these projects. 

These include, alongside 

  • the Federal Agency for Technical Relief, 

numerous non‑governmental organisations such as 

  • the German Red Cross and 
  • Doctors Without Borders as well as 
  • the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations.

Background Information

Humanitarian assistance is designed to help people at risk or already in dire need as a result of natural disasters, epidemics or conflict. 

It can be categorised according to five different fields of activity:

  • Immediate emergency aid 

is designed to save lives and alleviate acute suffering in the immediate wake of sudden disasters. One example is helping to search for and rescue victims following severe earthquakes.

  • Ongoing emergency aid 

is provided in more protracted crisis situations, where there is no sign of short‑term improvement. Ongoing emergency aid measures include provision of drinking water supplies and emergency shelters.

  • Transitional humanitarian aid 

is granted over the medium term and constitutes the link between short‑term emergency measures and long‑term development cooperation, for example through rehabilitation measures, so that people in need do not fall back into life‑threatening circumstances.

  • Disaster reduction measures with the goal of preparedness

are designed to reduce the impact of future crises before they happen. They include, for example, work on early‑warning mechanisms and training of humanitarian aid workers on the ground.

  • Humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance

also falls into the category of humanitarian assistance. The removal of anti‑personnel mines and unexploded ordnance, as well as victim assistance, helps save lives and reduce suffering.